U.S. Department of Commerce


Date of this Version



Published in Weather (2011) 66(2): 31-36


The use of satellites in weather prediction was introduced in an earlier article in this series (Kidd, 2010) which focused on satellite imagery, used primarily by forecasters and researchers to observe and understand synoptic scale weather patterns and their development. Many types of satellite observation are also used directly in numerical weather prediction (NWP) models. Observations from up to 50 individual satellite instruments are routinely assimilated at many centres. This article reviews the main types of satellite observations used in NWP, how they are used and why they are important.

As is often the case in this field, this article contains a large number of abbreviations and acronyms. Rather than expand these in the text, we have included a list at the end of the article.